Developer Buys 112 Acres in Downtown L.A.

Times Staff Writer

A Brentwood development company has acquired more than 100 acres of industrial and commercial property on the southern fringe of downtown Los Angeles for $131 million, the company announced Wednesday.

The properties, formerly owned by Southern Pacific Transportation Co., include aging buildings in the city’s produce district that purchaser Lowe Enterprises plans to renovate and restore. The purchase takes in 112 acres in several separate chunks along Alameda Street between the Santa Monica Freeway and Sixth Street.

The purchase is another example of the sharply increased business and sales activity along the gritty Alameda Street corridor, where the Los Angeles Times is building a new printing plant at an estimated cost of $230 million.


Other major developers are buying up properties along Alameda between the Santa Monica and Hollywood Freeways with plans to build offices and retail stores.

Land values in that part of downtown have gone up sharply in the past five years, according to Christopher R. Ludeman, a broker for Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles. Coldwell Banker brokered the sale, which closed Wednesday morning.

Among the buildings Lowe Enterprises plans to renovate is the tattered but historic Seventh Street Market, a produce market built in 1917 and designed by John Parkinson, who also helped design Los Angeles City Hall, the Coliseum and Union Station.

Philip Peters, one of the owners of Lowe Enterprises, said the produce buildings “need a lot of love, paint and attention,” but he declined to estimate how much the company will invest in the renovations. The entire renovation project, which is not expected to interrupt the present businesses there, should last 10 years, Peters said.

The sale of the properties coincides with the pending sale of Southern Pacific Transportation, a railroad company, to Rio Grande Industries for $1.8 billion. That sale is expected to close today.

A spokesman for Southern Pacific said the sale to Lowe is part of its plan to sell properties not vital to its railroad operations. The sale is also expected to help Rio Grande Industries pay off the huge debt it will incur in buying Southern Pacific.

Lowe Enterprises is making its investment in partnership with The New England, a Boston-based life insurance company formerly known as New England Mutual Life Insurance Co. Privately owned by a small group of investors, Lowe Enterprises is involved in a wide range of real estate development, investment and management nationwide.

Its activites range from managing resort properties and selling problem real estate to developing property of all kinds. One major project currently under way is known as Brea Corporate Place in northern Orange County that is expected to have more than 1 million square feet of office and retail space.